I was born in Tampa, FL, in 1947. My dad, who survived World War II as a Navy Electricians Mate, died less than a year later in a work-accident at a phosphorus plant between Tampa and Gibsonton.
Dad is buried in Hillsborough County, just north of Tampa. So is my mother, whose ashes were shared with him and her last husband in Floyd County after her death in 2012.
Several cousins, nieces and nephews still live in the Sunshine State. I haven’t seen them since burying my grandmother, near my dad, in 1994. Later work-related trips to Florida were to Jacksonville, Daytona, Orlando and Miami and I didn’t have time to venture over to the other side of the state to visit.
Mom and I left Florida in the early 1950s when she decided to return to her childhood home in Floyd County. When she remarried, we moved to Prince Edward County before returning to Floyd during my high school years before I left the county for nearly 40 years to work in Missouri, Illinois and Washington, DC.
I had a job offer once from a newspaper in Naples, FL, but turned it down. That was the only time I considered returning to live in the state of my birth Now that disgraced and criminal Donald John Trump has decided that Florida is home, any desire that may have been there to return vanished into the state’s hot, humid air.
To Tampa’s credit, it and Hillsborough County, voted against Trump in the 2020 presidential election. Joe Biden beat the corrupt real estate broker and reality show host by seven percentage points with a majority of more than 50,000 votes. In 2016, Hillary Clinton beat Trump by an even greater margin. Statewide, however, Trump carried the state in both elections.
Oh well. We live in Virginia now, where Trump lost both in 2016 and 2020, but carried our home county overwhelmingly. We can console ourselves in knowing that our home for 23 years — Arlington County — voted overwhelming against him in both elections. When it comes to politics, we commune with nature and avoid people.
I was a Floyd County High School student in 1963 when John F. Kennedy died from an assassin’s bullet in Dallas, TX. I wrote about student reactions to his death for The Floyd Press.
I covered the later election of Lyndon B. Johnson’s win over Barry Goldwater in 1964 for the Press. Goldwater, of course, carried Floyd County. Didn’t matter. Johnson won Virginia.
Richard Nixon’s win in 1968 came in a year of protests after assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy. I covered violence in Roanoke while reporting for the Times and wrote about the despair that younger voters felt when they lost another Kennedy as he appeared to be the heir apparent to his brother.
When I left the Times and moved to the St. Louis area to take a reporting job for The Telegraph in Alton, IL, I found myself in the town where James Earl Ray, the accused assassin of King, was born. During my 12 years there, when a jail cell where Ray was incarcerated as a young man, was auctioned off when the jail was torn down. It was called the “first jail cell” to hold Ray.
I wrote about Nixon and covered a press conference of Vice President Spiro Agnew in St. Louis as the Watergate scandal was growing. One of my questions about Watergate brought an angry response by Agnew that turned up on the CBS Evening News. I didn’t know about it until my mother called, saying they were watching the news and saw me ask the question.
When Nixon resigned in disgraced to avoid an impeachment trial, I had a column with The Telegraph and called him a “despicable man” that “will go down in history as the most corrupt president ever in America.”
That brought an angry response from many readers in a city that voted, overwhelmingly, for Nixon in 1968 and 1972.
When Donald Trump became our 45th president four years ago, I wondered in another column if the double-dealing real estate tycoon would turn out to be worse than Nixon.
Sadly, he was.
When Trump and his nude-model “trophy wife” Melania take Air Force One for their final trip on that iconic aircraft for their flight to Florida — their so-called home — the new “worst-ever” and “most corrupt” president who urged his followers into a seditious attempt to overthrow the election he legally lost and destroy what little is left of American democracy after his one term, will be gone.
When Nixon flew from Washington to California for his trip home in disgrace, I wrote that he should not be pardoned. Instead, I wrote that he should be charged, tried, convicted and jailed for his crimes. Gerald Ford, the Congressman who became vice president after Agnew resigned when his criminal conduct was revealed, pardoned Nixon, which wiped out his chances to keep the presidency in the next election.
Will Trump try to pardon himself as a final act of defiance before leaving the job he never deserved and the nation he tried to destroy? Some think he might but others say trying to do so would be illegal.
That’s why he might try. Trump has ignored laws, decency and morality his entire life. He leaves Washington as the only president ever impeached twice and his second one could be tried in the Senate after he is gone.
He has already supplanted Nixon as the worst, and most corrupt, president in our nation’s history. Let’s charge him with the sedition he committed, try and convict him, and toss his lying ass into prison.
Or we can let his creditors take everything he owns while New York state tries and convicts him for his many frauds. The line of those waiting to fry him is long and eager.
Let the feeding frenzy begin.